Intel Fellow Shekhar Borkar discussed exascale computing at a keynote address at the Semicon West fab tool vendor tradeshow in San Francisco. Borkar stated that exascale computing is anticipated to become available by the end of the decade. By about 2018, scientists are expected to create an exascale computer with 1,000 fold the performance of today's state-of-the-art petaflop systems, and if history is any guide, the technology will find its way into PCs about ten years later, and eventually into mobile systems.
But if current trends hold true, an exascale computer will consume vast amounts of power, according to Borkar. The formidable challenge, he said, is to create an exascale computing system that consumes only 20 megawatts (MW) of power.
If engineers can use new technology to create an exascale system that consumes only 20 MW of power, the same technology can also be used to dramatically lower the power consumption of lower performance systems, to the point where giga-scale systems consuming only 20 milliwatts of power can be used in small toys and mega-scale systems that consume only 20 microwatts could be used in heart monitors.
"A mega-scale machine was a supercomputer back in the 60s," Borkar added.